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Slim-down summer foods

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© iStockphoto.com / Kenneth Sponsler © iStockphoto.com / Kenneth Sponsler

By Michele Bender
From Completely You 


Summer is a great time to diet, because when the mercury rises, your appetite tends to crash. (And of course, seeing yourself in a swimsuit can be all the motivation you need!)

Still, at this time of year ice cream cones call your name and BBQs beckon; overdo it with either of these -- or other seasonal treats -- and you'll enter fall a little, um, fuller-figured.

The good news? Plenty of the foods that are prevalent this time of year tantalize your taste buds, offer important nutrients, and help you shed pounds. Here, seven to keep you slim and satisfied.


Slim-down summer food:
Watermelon.

"Not only is watermelon sweet and refreshing, but it's also low in calories at only 45 per cup of diced melon," says nutritionist Elizabeth Fassberg, president and founder of EAT FOOD, a food and nutrition consultancy. Because it's mostly water, this juicy summer treat is also very filling. An added bonus? It's a good source of vitamins C and A, lycopene, and the water it contains is hydrating -- something that's important on sweltering days.


Slim-down summer food:
Gazpacho.

This tomato-based, vegetable soup is served cold so it's very refreshing. "Because it's chock full of vegetables, gazpacho is filling but not high in calories," says Fassberg. "It's also full of flavor -- especially when the tomatoes are local and tasting sweet as sugar." On top of this, it's packed with different vitamins, minerals and fiber.


Slim-down summer food:
Summer lettuce.

"When it's fresh from the farmer's market it has so much flavor that you'll want to make salads instead of rich, heavy foods," says Fassberg. "Also, lettuce has almost no calories because of its high water content and depending on the type you choose, can contain vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and fiber to help fill you up!" Just watch the dressings since that's where the majority of calories come from. Steer clear of those that are cream-based.


Slim-down summer food:
Whole grains like bulgur, barley, quinoa or millet used in cold salads.

"Whole grains have more fiber and more nutrients than plain grains like pasta and white rice," says Fassberg. "Because they're rich in fiber, you'll only need a small portion to feel satisfied." They also have a lot more flavor than their less healthy counterparts. Enjoy them mixed with roasted beets and a bit of goat cheese or on top of your favorite green salad.


Slim-down summer food:
Homemade herbal iced tea.

"Our bodies give us the same cue for hunger that they do for thirst," explains Fassberg. In other words, often when you think you're hungry, you may just be dehydrated and need a good, long drink. Having a jug of iced tea all chilled in the fridge and ready to grab can help stave off the urge to devour the calorie-heavy snacks in the pantry. Simply steep your favorite flavor herbal tea bags in hot water, let this cool at room temperature, and then pour into a pitcher and chill in the fridge.


Slim-down summer food:
Fish on the grill.

Summertime is synonymous with grilling time. And it's a good thing because this form of outdoor cooking can be a low-calorie way of making delicious meals. "There's lots of flavor without needing to add too much fat which means the foods you grill typically have fewer calories," says Fassberg. Fish is an ideal BBQ choice because it's lean protein, doesn't have a ton of calories and is very satisfying.


Slim-down summer food:
Corn on the cob.

This sweet, seasonal staple is ideal when you get it local from the farmer's market. "It's also very filling, because of the fiber, fun to eat and takes some time to eat," says Fassberg. "Often, we eat so fast we don't realize we are actually full before we stop eating. If we slow down, our bodies and brains have a chance to work together and we stop eating before we are overly full." Fresh corn on the cob also contains antioxidants, manganese, vitamin C, B3 and B5.



Michele Bender 
is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in such publications as
Real Simple, More, Glamour, Self, iVillage.com and Completely You. Michele also co-authors and ghostwrites books, several of which have been bestsellers. Her most recent is Curly Girl: The Handbook.

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